Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shakori Hills Festival OPENS TODAY

The biannual grassroots fest at Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, NC, gets underway today, running Thursday through Sunday, April 21-24.

FULL SCHEDULE and TICKET INFO: Shakori Hills Website

Diali Cissokho & Kairaba performing at Nightlight in February

The beauty of Shakori is there is music going on on four stages all the time, so there's always something to do. Performers include The Lizzy Ross Band, Mount Moriah, Birds and Arrows, Greg Humphreys, John Howie Jr, Dave McCracken, Pura Fe, Deer Clan Singers, Kooley High, Big Fat Gap, The Travelin' McCourys, Tift Merritt, Midtown Dickens, The Beast and Dark Water Rising. With that wealth of entertainment in mind, here's a targeted selection of my personal picks:

THURSDAY: Cool John Ferguson and Arrested Development this evening. 7:30 - on...

FRIDAY: Umalali, the Garifuna women's collective from Central America. Meadow Stage, 10 pm. Repeats again on SATURDAY.

SATURDAY: Diali Cissokho and Kairaba. My strongest recommendation for a must-see new band on the rise. Led by Pittsboro-resident Cissokho, a Jimi Hendrix of the kora, with his nephew talking drummer Sidya Cissokho, plus an American-style backing band of drumset, congas, bass and electric guitar. The West African harp-lute may be dreamy and poetic solo, but Cissokho uses it to stoke a bluelight basement party in Kairaba, a word which means "love and peace" in Manding. Diali's natural charisma as a vocal performer may come from his centuries-old griot heritage, but he will also put you in mind of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and other griots of New World soul. Dance Tent, 4:15-5:30.

ALSO SATURDAY: Orquesta GarDel promises special guests and '80s nostalgia during their salsa set at the dance tent, starting just after midnight.

SUNDAY: Shake it all out with zydeco guru Preston Frank in the Dance Tent, 4:15-6:15. An earlier dance with Frank's band happens FRIDAY around 3 pm.

But don't take it from me. Mix and match your own agenda at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tony Allen Afrobeat Orchestra @ UNC TUESDAY (4/19)

Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, a pioneer of the Afrobeat genre, brings his Afrobeat Orchestra to UNC tonight (Tuesday, 4/19).

Fela Kuti's musical director and drummer in the 1970s, Allen is still going strong and updating Afrofunk/Afrobeat with contemporary sounds.

It's an early show starting at 7:30 in Memorial Hall, tickets range from $20-$40; UNC students pay $10.

CONCERT LINK: Tony Allen's Afrobeat Orchestra at UNC, 4/19

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Down-To-Earth Diva: Emeline Michel @ Stewart Theatre SAT (4/16)

I had the privilege to interview Haitian singer Emeline Michel, as well as her guest violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), for this story in the INDY this week:

"Reluctant Queen: Emeline Michel's rich Haitian fusion"

See her in concert tonight (4/16) in Raleigh at NCSU's Haitian Celebration: 8 pm, Stewart Theatre. DBR gives a free, Pre-Concert Talk at 7 pm.

BAMP Fundraiser Tonight (4/16)

The Bonjour Africa Malaria Project annual fundraiser takes place tonight, Saturday (4/16) at the Freelon Group in Durham. $25 admission for the dinner dance and silent auction; proceeds go to purchase mosquito nets to prevent malaria in Senegal.

Can't attend? Make an online donation at the Bonjour Africa website.

The project is spearheaded by WNCU deejay Bouna Ndiaye, host of the weekly African music show "Bonjour Africa," Sundays 4-6 pm on WNCU 90.7 FM-Durham.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

¡La Batalla!

Last night was round 1 of La Ley's "La Batalla," a battle of the bands designed to promote the musical talent of Central and Eastern North Carolina and provide up-and-coming artists with guidance and the opportunity for exposure.

Four bands competed in the first round:
  • Revelación Sevilla, a Raleigh-based Cumbia Tropical group comprising four brothers and a cousin originally from Hidalgo, MX;

  • SDO Musical, A familial, Raleigh-based Tierra Caliente ensemble

  • Positivo Show, a Tierra Caliente ensemble from Goldsboro

  • Rubén y su Potencia, a Raleigh-based Tierra Caliente group.

And the winner was ...

Positivo Show!

And here's a bonus vid of Rubén Y Su Potencia:

Positivo Show will advance to the final round along with the winners of the next two primimary rounds (dates and venues TBA). The winner of La Batalla will receive an 8 hour recording session and demo produced by a recognized music recording studio and $1,000 cash, in addition to airplay on LA LEY 96.9 FM.